Human rights now have a bad reputation among the public, especially conservatives. But human rights are vital. They protect individual freedom, especially from an overreaching state. Our work explores how human rights can be better understood and enhanced in the UK and abroad, with a particular focus on: the contents of the forthcoming British Bill of Rights; the role of human rights in British foreign policy; and how to tackle racial, gender, sexual, disability and religious discrimination.

Click here to access our Conservatism and human rights micro-site


Individual identity: Understanding how conservatives think about human rights and discrimination

James Dobson, Freddie Lloyd and Ryan Shorthouse

December 2017 

Discrimination and the abuse of human rights are immoral, unjust and illegal barriers to individual freedom and flourishing. Tackling them should be at the heart of conservative thinking and policymaking. However, conservatives are often considered to be sceptical of measures to strengthen human rights and tackle discrimination.

This polling report unearths in detail what Conservatives – including those from different social groups – really think about the existence of, importance of, and measures on human rights and discrimination.

Click here to download the report as a .pdf

Fighting for freedom? The historic and future relationship between conservatism and human rights

Sir Michael Tugendhat

August 2017 

Conservative writers and politicians have been influential in the development of human rights in the UK for centuries. Sir Winston Churchill made the enthronement of human rights a war aim, which was achieved by the founding of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It was a Conservative MP in 1968 who was the first to campaign for incorporating the ECHR into UK statute law, which would eventually be realised with the introduction of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998.

However, Conservatives today are sceptical of the HRA. The current Government has promised to review the UK’s future human rights legal framework after Brexit. This report outlines and assesses different options for reform, concluding that Conservatives should be supporters of the HRA and ECHR.

Click here to download the report as a .pdf

Britain breaking barriers: Strengthening human rights and tackling discrimination

James Dobson and Ryan Shorthouse

July 2017 

Britain is the home of human rights and a global force for good. After Brexit, Britain should not just be a global leader in free trade, but in human rights too. In this country, as a result of discrimination, too many people are still held back — especially in education and employment — because of who they are rather than what they do.

After a year-long inquiry led by a commission of high-profile decision makers and opinion formers, this report provides a comprehensive and compelling set of policies which can be used by the current Government for its social reform agenda to strengthen human rights and tackle all forms of discrimination.

Click here to download the report as a .pdf

Conservatism and human rights: essay collection

Ryan Shorthouse and James Dobson

March 2016 

This collection published by Bright Blue, brings together leading thinkers, decision makers and public figures to discuss three key themes in the debate around human rights: tackling discrimination; the role of human rights in British foreign policy; and ensuring the new British Bill of Rights strengthens human rights.

This collection includes contributions from the Rt Hon Damian Green MP, the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, the Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC MP, Crispin Blunt, Trevor Phillips OBE and Professor Sir Paul Collier.

Click here to download the report as a .pdf

Human Rights


Spotlight on America

Kate Maltby

October 2013

Bright Blue believes firmly in the value of Britain’s alliance with America. That’s why edition four of The Progressive Conscience takes ‘America’ as its theme. George W Bush’s economic advisor, David Frum, argues in his interview that conservatives in the modern political climate can no longer take for granted that parties of the left, whether in the UK or the US, are unacceptable to people of enterprise. Olympia Snowe has drawn on her long career as a deal-brokering Republican Senator to write for us on cross-party dialogue. Daniel Finkelstein, Louise Mensch, Jesse Norman MP, Stephen Pollard, Penny Mordaunt MP and Iain Martin lend us their expertise on lessons from American history.

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Does West know best?

Ryan Shorthouse

October 2011

The August riots gave many opinion formers ammunition to trash the supposed sorry state of modern Britain. What we are seeing is yet another attack on economic and social liberalism – the consensus of the establishment in most developed countries in the West. Lest we forget, this consensus has – for the overwhelming majority of citizens – enhanced freedoms and improved living standards. The third edition of The Progressive Conscience critiques the state and future of the West, with contributions from Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Will Hutton, Con Coughlin, Peter Tatchell and Professor Eric Kaufmann.

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A woman’s world?

Ryan Shorthouse

December 2010

Women in Britain today have more opportunities than ever, thanks to the opening up of the education system and the labour market. We should, undoubtedly, celebrate the improved status of women and welcome the influence women have had on our society. Problems persist, however: the gender pay gap, poverty, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, and – abroad – unimaginable crimes. This third edition of The Progressive Conscience includes articles penned for us by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Mary Ann Sieghart, Dr Samantha Callan, Dr Katherine Rake, and many others.

Click here to download the magazine as a .pdf